Finally! Another round of Central Student Government elections finally over. And, another columnist shaking his fists at the elections and claiming that it all ends with someone winning on a technicality. Admittedly, there might be something of substance underneath all of Mr. James Brennan’s ranting and raving. But before we get to that, let’s take a moment to set the record straight.
As this year’s Election Director, I’m a bit biased when I say this, but I’ll say it anyway: Winter 2014’s elections were the best I’ve seen in my three years at the University of Michigan. Yes, there were lawsuits. Yes, some candidates and parties were issued demerits for failing to adhere to the rules.
But it’s important that students know the truth: no litigation resulted in any altering of any election. Let me repeat that: not one election was won or lost this year due to election-related litigation. Not one. Nada. Zip. Zero. Every candidate who swears an oath of office in the coming weeks will do so because he or she won the most weighted votes, period.
Being something of an election-insider, I agree that it can be frustrating to see the Election Code as it stands right now. I argued as much in my dissent in Fernandez v. ForUM, et al. (you can read the UEC’s opinions here). I agree with Mr. Brennan that some of the rules in the Election Code are hypertechnical nonsense that probably confuse more than they elucidate. But consider this: even if we designed the perfect Election Code, the elections themselves still wouldn’t be perfect. Why? Because the only way to ensure positive, fair outcomes is to sit down with all the candidates and talk things through before campaigning begins.
And that’s exactly what we did this year. We talked about how student confidence in CSG declines when people win because of lawsuits. We discussed why it’s not just whether you win, but how you win, that matters. And we talked about respecting other candidates, no matter how fierce and heated the campaign gets.
I agree with Mr. Brennan that the code must be reformed. But I hope that he will also agree that while no election is perfect, this year’s election is a step forward in creating confidence in CSG elections.
Bryson Nitta is a third year law student.